I planning a number of long backpacking trips in the Cascades and Olympics, as well as climbs of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ads, and Mt. Rainier this summer. Recently, most of my old gear was stolen from my car while moving. I still have a tent and sleeping bag, but I no longer have my backpack, boots, stove, or any foul-weather gear. Can you recommend the best all-around light gear that is not too expensive but can hold up to the demands of the Pacific Northwest? (Just so you know, I a small women5'2" and 103 lbsso I need to keep things light and small.) Michele Portland, OR
Eh, that's an awful drag. I hate to hear that has happened. On the up side, at least it's a chance to find some newer-generation gear. Seeing as I am a PacNW local, I know pretty much exactly what you need. Or at least, what I would need. And that refrain goes like this:
The Ariel 75
My favorite packs these days come from Osprey. Love the Ariel 754,400 cubic inches in small, designed for women, with fabulous suspension, excellent gear organization. Pretty light at 4 pounds, 10 ounces. And at $280, not a bad price, either. My close second choice, Gregory's Deva 70 ($290). A little heavier pack (5 pounds 5 ounces), and more heavily built. In my view, a pound in pack weight offers you several more options in terms of what you can carry comfortably, so keep that in mind. Try both.
So may to choose from. I really like Asolo's Stynger GTX ($195), a boot that is light but tough, waterproof, and built for a woman. Perfect for a light person and a moderate pack. Or try Montrail's Blue Ridge ($170), or Scarpa's Kailash GTX ($185). Fit is foremost, so find a good boot-fitter and try on several.
Well, there is the white gas vs. canister question. But I like MSR's Whisperlite Internationale ($90) for overall ease of use and reliability. If you are solo camping, then go for the Jetboil's Personal Cooking System ($100).
This one depends on budget. If limited, Marmot Precip Rain Jacket ($99) is very hard to beat. If you can go for it, get REI's Shuksan ($289), which has the most excellent eVent fabric. Men's cut only, but for a rain jacket thats okay.